Friday, July 2, 2010

Chilton Williamson, Jr., on America

"The United States has no glorious culture, no history comparable with that of Great Britain and the great Western European nations," he writes in an article "against mass immigration" — Cannibal Statistics. He continues:
    Rooted in the thin acidic topsoil of the Enlightenment, and at a deeper level in the even thinner and more acid subsoil of Puritanism; deprived of an hereditary aristocracy for which a more or less barbaric plutocracy has necessarily substituted; mentally and socially crippled by bumpkin preachers at the bottom of the religious structure and by otiose transcendentalist divines at its top; retarded by its frontier culture; corrupted by the worship of money, science, and technique and by the false religions of Progress and Democracy—high culture at the European level was never to be a part of America’s destiny. (The English, despite the self-inflicted and incurable wound of the Reformation, at least had the sense to kick the sectarians out at the beginning of the 17th century. Chesterton, on a lecture tour in the United States, quipped, to nobody’s amusement, that Great Britain, too, should have her own Thanksgiving Day, offering up her heartfelt thanks for the God-sent departure of the Puritans from England.) And yet American civilization, despite its undeniable shallowness by comparison with that of Europe, does represent the cultural and intellectual flowering of a unique, vigorous, and interesting people who succeeded for a time in creating a culture well suited to, and highly expressive of, its geographical and material circumstances, as Tocqueville understood. The trouble with America is that she never realized her great potential, and the chief reason that she failed to do so is the irresponsible profligacy of her immigration policy, driven almost entirely at the behest, indeed the demand, of the business and industrial elites who, from the beginning, showed no concern for the future of their country but merely for what they might realize from it in the short term. (How could it have been otherwise? They were wealthy men of business, not aristocrats, whose historical role has been to act as husbandmen for their countries.) Mass culture, together with mass democracy, by themselves ensured the destruction of the traditional American civilization (America’s colonial past, remember, is nearly as long as her history as the United States), but the racial and ethnic fragmentation of society produced by immigration ensured that the old civilization was not long for this world.

    There is no more chance, of course, of restoring the old American Republic, either in political spirit or in general culture, than of restoring the Roman Republic. And so there would be no need or excuse for deploring its passage but for one thing: As the history of the West since 1789 shows, a bad situation, no matter how bad, can always be made worse. As socially fragmented as American society has become, and as much as its culture has been degraded by immigration, they will inevitably become more so if mass immigration from the Third World is not soon halted. There are, still, many valuable relicts that deserve to be preserved. But contemporary mainstream culture will not permit this truth to be spoken when the message is expressed in subjective historical, cultural, and moral terms. The demons of multiculturalism simply will not permit such a thing. Statistics are acceptable, though generally not welcome. Statistics are social science, after all, and social science is the study of man objectivized, depersonalized, and quantified. Statistics are thought to be cleansed of motives, and as such are tolerated in the endless, and endlessly self-renewing, immigration debate. Unfortunately, the only considerations relevant to the debate that are also of crucial significance are by nature unquantifiable and madly resist statistical expression.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Casey Khan said...

"The trouble with America is that she never realized her great potential, and the chief reason that she failed to do so is the irresponsible profligacy of her immigration policy, driven almost entirely at the behest, indeed the demand, of the business and industrial elites who, from the beginning, showed no concern for the future of their country but merely for what they might realize from it in the short term."

The real profligacy was American expansion, especially with the Lousiana purchase, the Mexican-Texan wars, the Gadsden purchase, and the ethnic cleansing that was the Indian Wars. Anglo Americans (culture derived from UK) love to lament the fact that Hispanics (culture derived from Spain) who are somehow thought not part of "Western Civilization" have been "let-in" to the expanded Anglo America. It's going to take some of that multiculturalism to mellow out America's Calvinist roots that continue to dominate its thinking on things like the "War on [insert materialistic problem here]."

Unfortunately appeals to the "Old Republic" are problematic because they are appeals to a false form of unity that was Hobbesian in nature leading to the lamentable state of wasp respectability and whig historical memory. Perhaps in their short-term view of accepting all those immigrants from Catholic countries (Ireland, Italy, and most of all Mexico)those American businessmen, unlike the respectable English aristocrats, may have found a road to the ancient faith, toward true Unity, and not the nonsense that the Puritans were right to flee from, but for the wrong reasons (that said, Chesterton's point here was quite funny).

In a way, I think, America's immigration policy was not "profligate" but a long arduous road to her salvation.

10:33 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

"The real profligacy was American expansion, especially with the Lousiana purchase, the Mexican-Texan wars, the Gadsden purchase, and the ethnic cleansing that was the Indian Wars."

I agree.

"In a way, I think, America's immigration policy was not 'profligate' but a long arduous road to her salvation."

I'd like to agree.

You're right that the Irish in Boston and the Italians in New York, Jersey, and Philly did a lot to set America on a righter course, not to mention Polish in the Midwest and the Spaniards already living in the Western lands. Opening the floodgates in 1965 did little to help, though.

Related by law as I am to some of our Black fellow citizens, one of my primary concerns is the detrimental effect that immigration, legal and illegal, has had on the Black community, and I thank Pat Buchanan for pointing this out to me.

2:35 AM  
Blogger Casey Khan said...

"Related by law as I am to some of our Black fellow citizens, one of my primary concerns is the detrimental effect that immigration, legal and illegal, has had on the Black community, and I thank Pat Buchanan for pointing this out to me."

I wonder if this is a case of correlation but not causation, which is always difficult to discern in politics broadly understood. You mention 1965, but also a few years later was 1968 where the great society and the war on poverty was initiated. I think those policies had a direct negative impact on African American families, churches, and their entire social structure, whereas immigration, if it had an impact at all, it was secondary. Further, if we add the war on drugs, and even the proliferation of dollar inflation, both initiated by the Nixon regime, then I think we see further direct negative impacts on the inner city, and African American communities. A good case in point is the city of Philadelphia, where the hispanic population is non-existent compared to other locales like Chicago or NY. Yet, Philly suffers dramatically from the war on poverty, the war on drugs, and the general inflationary price trend. Open immigration has got to be somewhere way down the list compared to these other direct effects on the African American community. Heck these negative direct policies are also destroying Hispanic communities as well.

So, is some kind of immigration reform or wall building or other impotent measure going to give a direct benefit to the underclass that is suffering? Not a chance (which is why blowhard politicos in AZ love the immigration issue as it's a cheap way to win votes for something unsolvable). However, if we ended the drug war, and eliminated the welfare state, over time, these families and communities might have a chance. I say over time, because I'm not so naive to say that it would happen overnight. I realize it would take decades, if not generations, before these societies broken by modern ideologies (which includes the modern ideology of the "nation state border" and "sovereignty") would heal to being a polis as a good instance of its kind.

3:59 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

I'd say that the Immigration Act of 1965, the Great Society, and the War on Drugs are all part and parcel of the same front against our Black fellow citizens.

I agree with you fully that any changes to the latter two must be made "over time," but changes to immigration could be made immediately. We are responsible to our fellow citizens first.

4:09 AM  

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